One day Fortune and Knowledge took a walk together. They happened to drift into a discussion as to what would be of the greatest benefit to mankind. Knowledge thought that to have profound learning was most desirablen but Fortune maintained that good luck was what one could not be without. "Do you see that dull-looking boy ploughing in the field over there?" asked Fortune. "Throw yourself on him and make him wise and learned, and we shall see how far he gets without my help."
The dull-looking boy stopped his horses at this moment, looked around, and said to an old man who was helping him: "I feel I have all at once become so wise that there is nothing I do not know of all that has been known or ever will be known." He needed no more to do such common work as ploughing, he added, but wished to go to town and make his fortune by means of his great knowledge.
When he came to town he decided to take up a watch-maker's trade. So he entered the house of the royal watch-maker, asking for a place as an apprentice in the workshop.
"No," said the watchmaker, "your hands are too big and rough for this kind of work, and you look as if you were able to play a good knife and fork." The young man pleaded as best he could, however, and at length he offered the watch-maker a hundred pounds - all his heritage and savings - if he would hire him. Then the watchmaker did not object any longer, but let the young man have his will. The young man also asked to work in a room by himself. This was not granted, however. At length he was given a place among the other apprentices.
The first piece of work which he was asked to do was to polish the face of a tower-clock, for such toil seemed most suitable for his big hands. And the watchmaker was pleased with how he did this and all other work he was given.
One day the king sent a message to the watchmaker, bidding him to make a clock which could walk about on the table all by itself. When the king said, "Here sits the king," it was to stop in front of his seat and beat. This clock was to be finished at a certain time in the near future.
The watch-maker became much puzzled, and said that it was impossible to fulfil his majesty's wish. However, the king told him that unless he did it, his royal privilege would be taken away from him and given to someone else.
The watchmaker was much perplexed by this order. His new apprentice asked to be allowed to make the clock, but no attention was paid to this offer, and when the apprentice repeated it, he was even sharply rebuded. As his master looked more and more dejected, the young man offered his services for the third time, and was finally allowed to make the trial; moreover, he was given a room by himself so that he could be undisturbed.
When he had been working for some time his master entered to see how he was getting on. "Look, master!" said the young man, "these are the drawings for the clock. The plans are ready, so the real work can begin."
"Let me see once," replied his master, putting on his glasses. He looked from the floor to the ceiling, and back again, and wherever he looked he saw the most unusual figures and drawings. "Yes," he said, at length, "this looks well enough," and walked away. When he stepped into the room a month later, the apprentice said to him: "All the wheels and other pieces are now ready. When they have been put together the clock is finished." He showed the watchmaker all these things. The watchmaker could not help thinking, "What will come of it all?" He said nothing, however, but only nodded, and hastened away.
A short time afterwards he returned. At the door he was met by his apprentice, who said: "Now, master, the clock is finished, and we will try it!"
"Yes," answered the old man, eagerly, "let us try it!"
The clock was placed on the table, at one end of which the master seated himself. The clock walked about, indeed, and when the master, who played the king's part, addressed it, saying, " Here sits the king," it stopped in front of him and beat the exact time. The watch-maker was delighted, and the little clock was made to walk about to amuse him and all his apprentices.
On the appointed day the royal watch-maker came to the palace with the clock, followed by his apprentice. The clock was tried in the presence of the whole court, and did its duty so well that the king was not only pleased but wondered greatly at the skill of the work. He asked his watchmaker why he had been at first so puzzled and so afraid of undertaking the work, since he nevertheless had been able to carry it out so well. Thus the man had to explain that it was not he but the apprentice who had done the work.
When the king learned this he declared that if the young man had been able to make this clock, he deserved to be promoted. and paid off the old watchmaker a hundred pounds to release the apprentice from his contract there and then.
The king had a daughter who did not say even a single word. Her father was much afflicted, and promised to make the one who could make her speak, his successor and son-in-law. However, those who tried and failed must, however, lose their wealth and homes.
Many persons from all parts of the country had tried in vain to restore the young lady's power of speech. One by one they were led into the room of the princess, but no one could make her say anything.
At length the watch-maker's former apprentice decided to try, so this young man, whom Knowledge had endowed so well, entered the room. He did not look at the princess at all, but walked up to a mirror hanging there, and addressed it: "Good morning, mirror! Let me tell you a story! There were once three men who walked about in the country: a tailor, a sculptor, and a teacher. As they had to keep up a fire at night, they decided that one of them must always keep awake, while the two others slept. First the sculptor was to watch, and when he looked about in the dark, he found an infant boy in the grass. He was so surprised that he woke up the tailor, and while the tailor rubbed his eyes, he sewed a whole dress for the child. When the schoolmaster's turn came, he at once taught the little boy to speak. But which of the three men did this boy belong, little mirror?"
"It belonged to the sculptor, of course, since he found it," said the princess. She had become so interested in the story that she could not help saying what she thought about it.
The young man nodded to the mirror, saying: "That is right, little mirror! Thanks to you for your kindness!"
He walked out of the door without even looking at the princess. The ministers who had been listening outside, hadheard nothing, and took him into the courtyard to be punished by losing his home and wealth. At the very same moment the king happened to pass the yard. As soon as he saw who the attorneys had in his hands, he recognized him as the watchmaker's apprentice who had made the wonderful clock, and pardoned him at once.
Some time afterwards the young man again wanted to make the princess speak. This time generals were listening outside the door, but they declared that they heard nothing. The young man was accordingly taken into the courtyard and again doomed to be poor, very poor.
At the same moment Fortune and Knowledge happened to pass outside. When they saw what was in progress they stopped.
"Look!" exclaimed Fortune; "what good did his great wisdom do him?"
"Up to a point it worked," replied Knowledge; "but now you must help him if you can!"
Fortune did so, for moment when the young man was standing among the lawyers and was about to sign the document that would make him lose all he owned, the princess rushed into the courtyard and told all: "He made me speak a lot both times. Him I want to marry!" In this way the young man escape getting poor and homeless. He married the princess and became king of the land.
There was once a man who had a son who was very clever at reading, and took great delight in it. He went out into the world to seek service somewhere, and as he was walking between some mounds he met a man, who asked him where he was going.
"I am going about seeking for service," said the boy.
"Will you serve me?" asked the man.
"Oh, yes; just as readily you as anyone else," said the boy.
"But can you read?" asked the man.
"As well as the priest," said the boy.
Then I can't have you," said the man. "In fact, I was just wanting a boy who couldn't read. His only work would be to dust my old books."
The man then went on his way, and left the boy looking after him.
"It was a pity I didn't get that place," thought he "That was just the very thing for me."
Making up his mind to get the situation if possible, he hid himself behind one of the mounds, and turned his jacket outside in, so that the man would not know him again so easily. Then he ran along behind the mounds, and met the man at the other end of them.
"Where are you going, my little boy?" said the man, who did not notice that it was the same one he had met before.
"I am going about seeking for service?" said the boy.
"Will you serve me?" asked the man.
"Oh, yes; just as readily you as anyone else," said the boy.
"But can you read?" said the man.
"No, I don't know a single letter," said the boy.
The man then took him into his service, and all the work he had to do was to dust his master's books. But as he did this he had plenty of time to read them as well, and he read away at them until at last he was just as wise as his master–who was a great wizard–and could perform all kinds of magic. Among other feats, he could change himself into the shape of any animal, or any other thing that he pleased.
When he had learned all this he did not think it worth while staying there any longer, so he ran away home to his parents again. Soon after this there was a market in the next village, and the boy told his mother that he had learned how to change himself into the shape of any animal he chose.
"Now," said he, "I shall change myself to a horse, and father can take me to market and sell me. I shall come home again all right."
His mother was frightened at the idea, but the boy told her that she need not be alarmed; all would be well. So he changed himself to a horse, such a fine horse, too, that his father got a high price for it at the market; but after the bargain was made, and the money paid, the boy changed again to his own shape, when no one was looking, and went home.
The story spread all over the country about the fine horse that had been sold and then had disappeared, and at last the news came to the ears of the wizard.
"Aha!" said he, "this is that boy of mine, who befooled me and ran away; but I shall have him yet."
The next time that there was a market the boy again changed himself to a horse, and was taken thither by his father. The horse soon found a purchaser, and while the two were inside drinking the luck-penny the wizard came along and saw the horse. He knew at once that it was not an ordinary one, so he also went inside, and offered the purchaser far more than he had paid for it, so the latter sold it to him.
The first thing the wizard now did was to lead the horse away to a smith to get a red-hot nail driven into its mouth, because after that it could not change its shape again. When the horse saw this it changed itself to a dove, and flew up into the air. The wizard at once changed himself into a hawk, and flew up after it. The dove now turned into a gold ring, and fell into a girl's lap. The hawk now turned into a man, and offered the girl a great sum of money for the gold ring, but she would not part with it, seeing that it had fallen down to her, as it were, from Heaven. However, the wizard kept on offering her more and more for it, until at last the gold ring grew frightened, and changed itself into a grain of barley, which fell on the ground. The man then turned into a hen, and began to search for the grain of barley, but this again changed itself to a pole-cat, and took off the hen's head with a single snap.
The wizard was now dead, the pole-cat put on human shape, and the youth afterwards married the girl, and from that time forward let all his magic arts alone.
A king had two sons. They were a pair of reckless fellows, who always had something foolish to do. One day they rowed out alone on the sea in a little boat. It was beautiful weather when they set out, but as soon as they had got some distance from the shore there arose a terrific storm. The oars went overboard at once, and the little boat was tossed about on the rolling billows like a nut-shell. The princes had to hold fast by the seats to keep from being thrown out of the boat.
In the midst of all this they met a wonderful vessel–it was a dough-trough, in which there sat an old woman. She called to them, and said that they could still get to shore alive if they would promise her the son that was next to come to their mother the queen.
"We can't do that," shouted the princes; "he doesn't belong to us so we can't give him away."
"Then you can rot at the bottom of the sea, both of you," said the old woman; "and perhaps it may be the case that your mother would rather keep the two sons she has than the one she hasn't got yet."
Then she rowed away in her dough-trough, while the storm howled still louder than before, and the water dashed over their boat until it was almost sinking. Then the princes thought that there was something in what the old woman had said about their mother, and being, of course, eager to save their lives, they shouted to her, and promised that she should have their brother if she would deliver them from this danger. As soon as they had done so the storm ceased and the waves fell. The boat drove ashore below their father's castle, and both princes were received with open arms by their father and mother, who had suffered great anxiety for them.
The two brothers said nothing about what they had promised, neither at that time nor later on when the queen's third son came, a beautiful boy, whom she loved more than anything else in the world. He was brought up and educated in his father's house until he was full grown, and still his brothers had never seen or heard anything about the witch to whom they had promised him before he was born.
It happened one evening that there arose a raging storm, with mist and darkness. It howled and roared around the king's palace, and in the midst of it there came a loud knock on the door of the hall where the youngest prince was. He went to the door and found there an old woman with a dough- trough on her back, who said to him that he must go with her at once; his brothers had promised him to her if she would save their lives.
"Yes," said he; "if you saved my brothers' lives, and they promised me to you, then I will go with you."
They therefore went down to the beach together, where he had to take his seat in the trough, along with the witch, who sailed away with him, over the sea, home to her dwelling.
The prince was now in the witch's power, and in her service. The first thing she set him to was to pick feathers. "The heap of feathers that you see here," said she, "you must get finished before I come home in the evening, otherwise you shall be set to harder work." He started to the feathers, and picked and picked until there was only a single feather left that had not passed through his hands. But then there came a whirlwind and sent all the feathers flying, and swept them along the floor into a heap, where they lay as if they were trampled together. He had now to begin all his work over again, but by this time it only wanted an hour of evening, when the witch was to be expected home, and he easily saw that it was impossible for him to be finished by that time.
Then he heard something tapping at the window pane, and a thin voice said, "Let me in, and I will help you." It was a white dove, which sat outside the window, and was pecking at it with its beak. He opened the window, and the dove came in and set to work at once, and picked all the feathers out of the heap with its beak. Before the hour was past the feathers were all nicely arranged: the dove flew out at the window, and at, the same moment the witch came in at the door.
"Well, well," said she, "it was more than I would have expected of you to get all the feathers put in order so nicely. However, such a prince might be expected to have neat fingers."
Next morning the witch said to the prince, "Today you shall have some easy work to do. Outside the door I have some firewood lying; you must split that for me into little bits that I can kindle the fire with. That will soon be done, but you must be finished before I come home."
The prince got a little axe and set to work at once. He split and clove away, and thought that he was getting on fast; but the day wore on until it was long past midday, and he was still very far from having finished. He thought, in fact, that the pile of wood rather grew bigger than smaller, in spite of what he took off it; so he let his hands fall by his side, and dried the sweat from his forehead, and was ill at ease, for he knew that it would be bad for him if he was not finished with the work before the witch came home.
Then the white dove came flying and settled down on the pile of wood, and cooed and said, 'shall I help you?"
"Yes," said the prince, "many thanks for your help yesterday, and for what you offer today." Thereupon the little dove seized one piece of wood after another and split it with its beak. The prince could not take away the wood as quickly as the dove could split it, and in a short time it was all cleft into little sticks.
The dove then flew up on his shoulder and sat there and the prince thanked it, and stroked and caressed its white feathers, and kissed its little red beak. With that it was a dove no longer, but a beautiful young maiden, who stood by his side. She told him then that she was a princess whom the witch had stolen, and had changed to this shape, but with his kiss she had got her human form again; and if he would be faithful to her, and take her to wife, she could free them both from the witch's power.
The prince was quite captivated by the beautiful princess, and was quite willing to do anything whatsoever to get her for himself.
She then said to him, "When the witch comes home you must ask her to grant you a wish, when you have accomplished so well all that she has demanded of you. When she agrees to this you must ask her straight out for the princess that she has flying about as a white dove. But just now you must take a red silk thread and tie it round my little finger, so that you may be able to recognise me again, into whatever shape she turns me."
The prince made haste to get the silk thread tied round her little white finger; at the same moment the princess became a dove again and flew away, and immediately after that the old witch came home with her dough-trough on he back.
"Well," said she, "I must say that you are clever at your work, and it is something, too, that such princely hands are not accustomed to."
"Since you are so well pleased with my work, said the prince, "you will, no doubt, be willing to give me a little pleasure too, and give me something that I have taken a fancy to."
"Oh yes, indeed," said the old woman; "what is it that you want?"
"I want the princess here who is in the shape of a white dove," said the prince.
"What nonsense!" said the witch. "Why should you imagine that there are princesses here flying about in the shape of white doves? But if you will have a princess, you can get one such as we have them." She then came to him, dragging a shaggy little grey ass with long ears. "Will you have this?" said she; "you can't get any other princess!"
The prince used his eyes and saw the red silk thread on one of the ass's hoofs, so he said, "Yes, just let me have it."
"What will you do with it ?" asked the witch.
"I will ride on it," said the prince; but with that the witch dragged it away again, and came back with an old, wrinkled, toothless hag, whose hands trembled with age. "You can have no other princess," said she. "Will you have her?"
"Yes, I will," said the prince, for he saw the red silk thread on the old woman's finger.
At this the witch became so furious that she danced about and knocked everything to pieces that she could lay her hands on, so that the splinters flew about the ears of the prince and princess, who now stood there in her own beautiful shape.
Then their marriage had to be celebrated, for the witch had to stick to what she had promised, and he must get the princess whatever might happen afterwards.
The princess now said to him, "At the marriage feast you may eat what you please, but you must not drink anything whatever, for if you do that you will forget me."
This, however, the prince forgot on the wedding day, and stretched out his hand and took a cup of wine; but the princess was keeping watch over him, and gave him a push with her elbow, so that the wine flew over the table- cloth.
Then the witch got up and laid about her among the plates and dishes, so that the pieces flew about their ears, just as she had done when she was cheated the first time.
They were then taken to the bridal chamber, and the door was shut. Then the princess said, "Now the witch has kept her promise, but she will do no more if she can help it, so we must fly immediately. I shall lay two pieces of wood in the bed to answer for us when the witch speaks to us. You can take the flower-pot and the glass of water that stands in the window, and we must slip out by that and get away."
No sooner said than done. They hurried off out into the dark night, the princess leading, because she knew the way, having spied it out while she flew about as a dove.
At midnight the witch came to the door of the room and called in to them, and the two pieces of wood answered her, so that she believed they were there, and went away again. Before daybreak she was at the door again and called to them, and again the pieces of wood answered for them. She thus thought that she had them, and when the sun rose the bridal night was past: she had then kept her promise, and could vent her anger and revenge on both of them. With the first sunbeam she broke into the room, but there she found no prince and no princess–nothing but the two pieces of firewood, which lay in the bed, and stared, and spoke not a word. These she threw on the floor, so that they were splintered into a thousand pieces, and off she hastened after the fugitives.
With the first sunbeam the princess said to the prince, "Look round; do you see anything behind us?"
"Yes, I see a dark cloud, far away," said he.
"Then throw the flower-pot over your head," said she. When this was done there was a large thick forest behind them.
When the witch came to the forest she could not get through it until she went home and brought her axe to cut a path.
A little after this the princess said again to the prince, "Look round; do you see anything behind us?"
"Yes," said the prince, "the big black cloud is there again."
"Then throw the glass of water over your head," said she.
When he had done this there was a great lake behind them, and this the witch could not cross until she ran home again and brought her dough-trough.
Meanwhile the fugitives had reached the castle which was the prince's home. They climbed over the garden wall, ran across the garden, and crept in at an open window. By this time the witch was just at their heels, but the princess stood in the window and blew on the witch; hundreds of white doves flew out of her mouth, fluttered and flapped around the witch's head until she grew so angry that she turned into flint, and there she stands to this day, in the shape of a large flint stone, outside the window.
Within the castle there was great rejoicing over the prince and his bride. His two elder brothers came and knelt before him and confessed what they had done, and said that he alone should inherit the kingdom, and they would always be his faithful subjects.